October 02, 2013

The Great Outdoors

I consider myself one of those guys that digs the great outdoors.

I always think about tying a canoe to the roof of the truck, packing my gear, loading up the rifle, stringing up the old fishing poles, and heading up to the mountains. I would trap, hunt and fish for my food, make campfires and teach my son about nature while my two dogs kept the bear away.

But I don't have a rifle. And there are no mountains around here, unless you count Bridgehampton racetrack. And I don't have any gear (though I do have a pair of galoshes). Oh yeah, I don't have a son or a dog, either.

Still, I'm always on the verge on making my dream a reality. A visit to the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, Maine, almost did me in.

The King Pine Heavy Duty Dome tent would make a perfect home away from home. There was a "no fly" zone — a screened in section to hang out and . . . whittle. It sleeps six comfortably, as I pointed out to Karen.

"Big deal," she said. "Unless the tent comes with an air conditioner, cable TV, and running water, you'll be going alone."

Too bad for her, I was going to upgrade to the Big Woods Dome eight-person tent with her in mind. Besides, I was after the serenity of a babbling brook, not a blabbering wife, so there.

I picked out the queen-size Aerobed Air mattress and an REI Expedition Sleeping bag, guaranteed to keep you warm and cozy in minus 20-degree weather. "It looks like something a mummy is put in," Karen said. And it did, too.

I then outfitted my outdoor kitchen. Coleman Steel-Belted cooler. Whisperlite Stove. Fold out table – seats six. "Maybe you can invite some opossum over for dinner," Karen cracked.

Soon, I had spent thousands of dollars. Waterproof matches. Coleman Air Pump. MSR Miniworks EX Water Filtration System.

"What's that for?" Karen asked.

"You can drink the water from the babbling brook," I told her. "That's what the Native Americans did." Fire pit? Got it.

"You're really going to do this?" I assured her I was. With or without her. Manitoba, Montana, Bronxville, somewhere where the Buffalo run free and a man lives on his wiles, skinning and trapping, eatin' rabbit and poached squab (with fig jam and truffles), just me and the moon and the stars.

"I'll tell you what, Jeremiah Johnson. Set your gear up in the backyard and if you still want to go camping tomorrow I'll go with you."

Ah! There is nothing like a challenge to get a man going! I unloaded the tent. Hmmmmm. A lot of pieces and parts. It appeared that the frame wasn't really a frame (yet) but dozens of pieces of pipe that somehow fit together – if one had an advanced degree in nuclear engineering science.

Oh well – better git the fire goin'— hell, temperature's sinking fast. Must be 60, 62 degrees. Good thing I have the REI coffin, er, sleeping bag.

"I'm gonna whip us up some pork and beans," I announced proudly.

"You hate pork and beans."

"It's what a man eats when he's camping," I told her. "Besides, I want to save the squirrel stew for tomorrow."

"Why isn't the tent up?" She wondered.

"I figured we'd sleep under the stars."

Karen looked at me with THAT look. "You don't know how too set up the tent, do you?"

"Of course I do," I said.

"Well, when you're finished you better check your stove, because it won't light. And the table collapsed when I put the canteen on it. Oh by the way, this isn't a portable radio. I can tell because it has to be plugged into a wall outlet. Does your ice cream maker come with one?"

With that, she went into the house for the night. Not me though – pork and beans are perfectly good cold, and I still had my toasty sleeping bag. I started a fire and began singing the old camp songs I had learned as a child: "Home On The Range," "Stairway To Heaven" and the rest.

I crawled into my coffin . . . er . . . bed and tried to fall asleep. My stomach was rumbling. Growling.

Uh oh. Seems I had forgotten to buy the Reliance Flushable Loo, the Reliance Double Doody Toilet Waste Bags, and the Reliance Bio-Gel Waste Gelation.

I paced the yard aimlessly before swallowing my pride and knocking on the back door.

"Let me guess," Karen said. "You want to use the bathroom."

"Unlock the door," I sneered.

"Come right in, Tonto," she said with a smile.

I shipped the gear back to L.L. Bean the next morning.

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